Asking for Social Media Login Information from Job Candidates

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Today's hiring manager knows that social media offers unique insight into a job candidate's values, background, and relationships. A recent survey by Jobvite indicates that more than 85 percent of recruiters reported they consider a candidate's social media profiles during the interview process. Looking at what someone posts, comments on, and shares online can tell a hiring manager how they spend their time, if they are discrete, and whether their resume aligns with how they present themselves. I've heard of job candidates who claim to have graduated from Harvard on their resume, and post on Facebook that they've never left their home state of Iowa.

One hopes a job candidate would manage his or her online presence carefully, so they can align their experience and activities with what employers are looking for and demonstrate their knowledge and experience in the industry they are pursuing. Ideally, candidates would use specific industry or job-related key words, engage in online discussions of interest to professional colleagues, and share their insights with potential employers through blogging and articles online. This kind of activity would make it easy for hiring managers to find out what the job candidate is focused on and passionate about.

Digging Deep on Social Media

If the job candidate is more private in their online activities, hiring managers might be inclined to dig deeper by asking for login information so they can access accounts like Facebook, Instagram, and Snap Chat. Whether the job candidate is a civilian or a military veteran, there are the implications of searching a job candidate's online profiles deeper than what's available to the online public.

Mary Wright, a California Employment Lawyer specializing in advice and counsel to the human resources community, says that many states have passed legislation that "prohibits an employer from requesting or requiring an employee or applicant to disclose a user name or password for a personal social media account." The states that have (or are currently considering) social media password laws can be located at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Exceptions to the Rule

Many job candidates, eager to please the hiring manager and secure a job, might volunteer or comply with a request to access private social networking accounts. At this time, most candidates are not familiar with the law enough to know that, in many instances, they can turn down the request for passwords.

In some cases, employers are justified in requesting access to private online profiles. For instance, Wright shares, "An employee can be required to give his employer access to personal social media if, for example, that employee posts evidence of his or another employee's wrongdoing on Facebook. In that case, a court may require disclosure to the employer."

In a time when the rules are evolving and maturing constantly, it's challenging for an employer or hiring manager to know how to assess a candidate's authenticity and skills without using social media. Staying compliant with company rules and legal statutes is critical, whether recruiting civilians or veteran job candidates.


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